Tournament Approaches: Corvette

Corvette appeared in the A Division qualifying and finals at PAPA 12, and is a fast-paced shooting game with plenty of options and strategy.  So how do you play this thing?

Before you play: Ask others how the game is playing! For Corvette, critical information is the return from the bumpers (through the spinner down the middle? mostly back through the loop to the upper flipper?), the return from the left loop to the right flipper, and the strength of the flippers. On some Corvettes, it is very difficult to shoot the side ramp; on others, it is difficult to shoot the right ramp; in both cases this can change strategy significantly. Ask about €œ3/4 ramp€� returns, how the ball behaves when a ramp shot isn’t strong enough and screams back down. If possible, watch another player on the game, to judge tilt sensitivity and how players are €œmissing€� shots. The left loop and left ramp are important shots early in the game, so watch those especially. Check to see if the kickback is on at the beginning of the game, but seriously, this is PAPA: it’s not.

On kickbacks: Corvette has an easily-relit kickback, a touch target on the right side. This is a critical shot at the start of a ball, since kickbacks are essentially extra balls. If the kickback is unlit, go get it immediately with one exception: the kickback lights itself for free at the start of multiball. If you think you can get multiball going quickly, do that instead. I have found generally that aiming for the right side of the target is safer and less likely to lead to a right outlane drain. The kickback can only be relit after it has “timed out”, so don’t shoot for this target immediately after earning a kickback.

Know the sucker shots: If you think the ball may drain from a successful shot, don’t shoot that unless it is absolutely critical to success. There are very few sucker shots in Corvette, since it is generally a ramp-and-loop game. I feel the “Pit In” shot is somewhat sucker-y, since if you miss you are in immediate trouble. But there are times where this shot is valuable. There is a second type of sucker shot in Corvette though: shots that just aren’t worth much. Specifically, the left loop is useful for lighting lock and that’s about it. Some players shoot the left loop repeatedly since it counts loops toward a “World Speed Record”. That record gets your initials on the dot matrix but isn’t worth any good points. Don’t bother.

COMBOS ARE KING: This strategy note mostly applies to A Division. In my opinion, the best way to huge points on Corvette is combos. Combos are cumulative throughout a ball, with each new combo scoring while adding its value to the next one. For example, if you shoot 3 combos worth “10 million”, they score 10 million, 20 million, and 30 million, and the next combo will be worth at least 36 million. The combo value caps at 99 million, and it isn’t unusual to get there during a good ball.

These are the combos and how much they add to the current total (thanks Cameron and Keefer):

  • Grand Prix: right loop to side ramp (+12M)
  • Sebring: right loop to side loop (+12M)
  • Nurburgring: right loop to right ramp (+12M — good luck with this one)
  • Mid-Ohio: lock to side ramp (+6M)
  • Lime Rock: lock to side loop (+6M)
  • Robeling Road: side loop to side ramp (+10M)
  • Road Atlanta: left loop to lock (+8M)
  • Elkton Lane: lock to side loop to side ramp (+24M)
  • Willow Springs: right loop to side loop to side ramp (+20M)
  • Holstein: lock to RAUCOUS target during multiball (+40M — a ridiculous amount)

In practice I find I get Robeling Road most often, and Mid-Ohio after that. Shooting the side loop tends to be difficult from a fast-moving ball.

Here’s the kicker though: combos count in multiball! You’re far more likely to make random combos in multiball, and they all count and add their value to the total. Getting combos going big during multiball can make shots worth a ton of points, enough to dominate any scoring strategy. Oh, and combos count during any multiball, not just the regular one. So during Race Today multiball, where ramps are worth 15 million jackpots? You might rather shoot 99 million a combo perhaps?

Getting started: Multiball is easy to get to on Corvette and worth a lot of points — especially when combos are brought in. When in doubt, shoot the left loop to light lock, then the left ramp to lock the ball. The lock shot times out on later multiballs, so if lock is lit, concentrate exclusively on scoring the lock. The lock shot times out quickly, after which you must reshoot the left loop to light lock.

During multiball, the upper flipper loop and ramp shots are the jackpots. Shooting both jackpots relights them; shooting both jackpots in a combo (loop to ramp) scores a double jackpot for the ramp. When the first ball kicks out, try for the combo right away; in general I try for the loop first: it’s an easier shot from a slow-moving ball when Corvette is set up to be difficult, gives the ball momentum for the ramp shot and super, and scores a big combo.

Feeding the upper flipper can be challenging, since the ball screams around the Lock ramp. Try backhanding it, which is more likely to fall into the kicker. Also, use the kickback! If you see a ball head for the kickback, get ready to shoot jackpots. That means you should concentrate hard on relighting the kickback during multiball; this is one of the best shots in multiball for a ball on the lower left flipper.

For intermediate players, a critical piece of success in Corvette is focusing your attention on upper flipper opportunities, even at the expense of balls down by the flippers. Try flailing a bit with balls at the bottom so you can concentrate on the jackpot shots.

Other multiballs: There are three other multiballs that are fairly easy to attain. First is “Race Today”, which lights after a certain number of “Spark Plugs” (aka “shots”) and should be cashed in immediately when lit. This is a brief “shift gears” round which is almost impossible to lose, and if you win, a junk 2-ball multiball starts. When you get this, play for combos (99 million!) and ignore the pitifully-valued jackpots (15 million). Warning: it  is possible to lose the drag race. Watch someone play or practice this round if you aren’t sure what to do, since it is a very costly thing to lose.

Second is “Catch Me”, which is awarded at 2 and 10 right ramps. This is a tough round, requiring (in this order) the right orbit, side ramp, Lock, and Pit In. The faster you finish, the more points it’s worth. Play this round! Not only will this award a combo or two, but finishing it starts another junk 2-ball multiball where you can play for more combos.

Third is “Pit In” which is awarded at 6 right ramps. It’s a Pit In hurryup. Play this round! If you complete the shot, you get… wait for it… another junk 2-ball multiball where you can play for more combos. During this multiball, you may be tempted to shoot Pit In again for an award, but don’t be fooled — combos are worth more!

If your combo value is high, obviously these multiballs become even more valuable than normal. Go get them!

What about cars: Whatever with cars. Go for cars if you are trying for the #1 qualifying score on the game. If you want a good, consistent score, ignore the cars. 9 cars lights the “Future Car” multiball round where you can… wait for it… play for more combos! If you happen to enter a “Corvette Challenge” (by shooting Pit In), ignore it and play your normal strategy. Making shots will win the round, so there is no need to vary what you would be doing.

What about Super Skill Shot? Whatever with Super Skill. The regular skill shot adds up fast: 5m, 10m, 15m,… with no apparent upper limit, and it’s easy as pie. If you miss even one Super Skill Shot during the game, you will get less points than if you took the regular skill shot each time, and bonus multipliers are worth enough points to make it more valuable even if you make all Super Skill Shots. The only reason to take Super Skill is safety: insta-drains through the bumpers are avoided. I don’t find this happens often enough to worry about, but if you want to, you can activate Super Skill by hitting LLRLL before plunging, and deactivate with RRLRR.

Where should I shoot?: If you have no idea what to do, keep doing this until you are declared the winner:

  • If the ball is on the lower left flipper, shoot the kickback target if you need to, otherwise shoot the right ramp.
  • If the ball is on the lower right flipper, shoot the left loop if you need to, otherwise shoot the Lock.
  • If the ball is heading for the upper flipper slowly, shoot the loop. If it’s fast, shoot the ramp.

The loop pass: Handling the left loop return in Corvette is critical. Ideally you can flip early and send the ball into the lock, but often these flips just go around the loop again. If you’re going to play this game multiple times, try holding the flipper up once and see where it goes — it might be an easy bounce. A good way to handle the PAPA 12 Corvette was the “loop pass”, which plays like a drop catch except that the ball moves to the other flipper. This is a tough play to trust, but not that hard to execute, and Corvette is one of the best games on which to learn this move. I do not recommend learning this move during a tournament but it can really help…

Score targets: If you need this many points… try…

  • Less than 100 million: keep shooting the right ramp unless you are close to a multiball, or shoot Pit In for Challenge if lit. You might already have the points on bonus, though. If you don’t get to any multiballs, you may be stuck with a score less than 200 million.
  • 100-500 million: go for multiball. In general, if you play more multiballs than your opponent, you should win.
  • Over 500 million: play your normal strategy with a focus on attaining multiball.

At PAPA 12, Corvette was in A Division qualifying, with one player over 5 billion (Donavan Stepp), 7 players over 2 billion, and 36 players over 1 billion: the 84th place score was 470 million. Oddly, it was also in the finals, with two players scoring the #4 and #5 games of the tournament (almost 3 billion each) and one player scoring only 60 million. Surprising to me is that the only other appearance of Corvette at PAPA was at PAPA 6 in Las Vegas, where it was used in C Division qualifying: only 6 scores came in over 1 billion with the median score around 300 million and one score under 10 million!

I hope this helps. What’s next?

– Bowen, perennial PAPA final and semifinal loser


  1. Chris
    August 8, 2010 at 10:52 pm

    Thanks Bowen for the write up on Corvette. For a relative newbie, could you put up some tips for Fish Tales or Bram Stokers Dracula? Thanks!

  2. Ron "TBK" Rezendes
    August 9, 2010 at 3:28 pm

    Great write up Bowen!! I’m looking forward to playing Corvette sometime this week – it is/was at a local Round Table only a few miles from home!

    Thanks you – looking forward to future articles like this on other titles (WCS, BSD, T3 are all of particular interest).

  3. artistic
    August 9, 2010 at 3:31 pm

    Thanks for a great article again. Some questions:

    About bonus: how easy / difficult it is to approximate how much bonus you have accumulated so far? Is it possible to keep track at all?

    You said go for Cars if you want to get the number 1 score in qualifying. If in a multiplayer game you are required to win and need an obscene amount of points to do that (for example, in a case that the opponent has taken an extreme lead after two balls and you enter your ball 2 after losing the first ball miserably), is this a feasible strategy to go for in this case? If yes, how do you recommend going for the cars (as there is four ways to get them)?

    What about the ball times in this game at high level tournaments?

    I’d like to hear tips about No Good Gofers some time in the future.

  4. Bowen
    August 9, 2010 at 3:34 pm

    Ron, I wrote up World Cup Soccer fairly recently, so take a look. Glad you like these articles and it’s likely you will see a Dracula writeup sometime soon.

  5. August 9, 2010 at 3:40 pm

    When Bowen posts a strategy guide to the blog, we tag it likeso:, making the archives one easy peasey string to browse.

  6. Chris
    August 10, 2010 at 9:02 am

    Thanks Dave(yes your cover is blown)! I had missed a few…

  7. Paul F. J.
    August 10, 2010 at 11:27 pm

    Cheers, Bowen. Much appreciated and very helpful!

  8. Bowen
    August 11, 2010 at 12:08 am

    Comments to artistic:

    In general I would suggest looking up the Corvette rules sheet, which is found at

    The bonus is 4m per track you’ve earned, plus any turbo boost points, plus 500k x ball, all multiplied, then add 10m per car you’ve earned. It makes cars worth 10m-30m depending on when you earn them. I don’t consider these points important enough to warrant changing strategy over, so I did not mention this in the strategy guide.

    If my opponent has an obscene score (by which I mean 4 billion or more perhaps) I would still play for combos, because the real juice is getting combos during other multiballs. Future Car by itself will not earn that kind of score. I actually don’t remember the four ways to get cars, but the easiest cars are the ones given with locks and the Drag Race. I would go for Drag Race or Catch Me, primarily because they each award a 2-ball multiball.

    Ball times aren’t that long on Corvette because it plays so fast. The PAPA game had the right outlane post removed completely and the kickback set off at the start of balls, which certainly helps…

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